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The Dungeon

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The Dungeon  


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Elevation: 6,219'
Location: 35.86907, -106.35694 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 89,923
Administrators: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Anthony Stout on Aug 6, 2006
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Jenna Lupia cruising through the bottom of Meltdow...

Description 

Home to primo, rhyolite sport climbing. Some of the best steep routes in New Mexico. The area has over 30 sport routes, though around 23 of them are 5.12 and up. There are around 13 below 5.12.

In contrast to White Rock, this area is a nice summer area. The Main Wall is shaded all day, and can even be climbed during rain storms.

Getting There 

Drive into Los Alamos via Highway 502 (Main Hill Rd.). After passing the airport, continue on Trinity Boulevard to Diamond Dr. (hospital's on the left). Turn left (south) onto Diamond Dr., soon after which you will drive over a large bridge. (Folks who have not been in the area for a few years will notice a few changes to the roadway at this point as Los Alamos National Laboratory thought it was necessary to drastically alter the natural flow of traffic to make room for a large security perimeter guard station; don't worry, you do not need a badge or ID to get through.) Turn right at the first light. Pass through a guard station, continue up West Jemez Rd. for approximately 2 miles, passing the turn-off for the Pajarito Ski Resort (Camp May Rd.). About 0.5 miles past Camp May Rd., look for a pull-out and parking lot on the right, which is at the trailhead for the Dungeon; turn in and park here. (GPS: Lon: -106.35262; Lat: 35.86575).

Walk North from the parking area, passing a large metal erosion control contraption and follow the trail for about 1/2 mile until you come onto the Main Wall (it's big and overhanging, it will be obvious).

  • Note: There is an alternative means of accessing the Dungeon, which bypasses the LANL "Security Perimeter" guard station. Vehicles and people entering LANL are subject to being searched. After turning left (south) onto Diamond Dr., immediately get in the right-hand lane and turn right at the traffic light onto West Rd. just before the bridge. Follow West Rd. down into the canyon, passing an ice rink on your left. Continue up this road, back out of the canyon, passing the turn-off for the Pajarito Ski Hill (Camp May Rd.) on your right. Shortly after Camp May Rd., you will merge with West Jemez Rd., but will have bypassed all of the LANL "security" area. About 0.5 miles after merging with W. Jemez, look for a pull-out and parking lot on the right, which is at the trailhead for the Dungeon; turn in and park here.

(More thorough directions provided thanks to Jason Hundhausen.)

Guidebooks 

  • "Jemez Rock" guide by Marc Beverly
  • Jackson's "Rock Climbing: New Mexico"

Climbing Season



Weather station 3.2 miles from here

44 Total Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',13],['2 Stars',13],['1 Star',13],['Bomb',3]
['<=5.6',1],['5.7',2],['5.8',0],['5.9',3],['5.10',6],['5.11',5],['5.12',16],['5.13',8],['>=5.14',1],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',1],['V4-5',1],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Dungeon:
Trash Disco   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Sport, 35'   Trash Tower
Pleasure Cruise   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Fin Wall
Rampage   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 60'   Black Wall
Weenies Go Like This (aka Garbageman)   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 35'   Trash Tower
Moat Jump   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport   Main Wall
Crimp Chimp   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 40'   45 Boulder
Against Nature (aka Peter's Route)   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 80'   Main Wall
Gangland   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 65'   Main Wall
Little Evil (aka Slope a Dope)   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   45 Boulder
Tendon Bendin'   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 35'   45 Boulder
Moat Pump   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 75'   Main Wall
Meltdown   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 30'   Main Wall
Beastmaster   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 45'   45 Boulder
Siege Warfare   5.12c/d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport   Main Wall
Dragon's Lair   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport   Main Wall
Loose Cannon   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport   Main Wall
Evil Alchemist   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport   Main Wall
The Catapult   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport   Main Wall
Dragonslayer   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 40'   45 Boulder
Death Drives a Stick   5.13 8a 29 X- 30 E7 6c     Sport   Main Wall
Browse More Classics in The Dungeon

Featured Route For The Dungeon
Chris D. moves over the bulge crux as Nick T. belays.

Against Nature (aka Peter's Route) 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b  NM : Los Alamos & White Rock : ... : Main Wall
Beautiful route just right of Siege Warfare! Climb steep overhung rock at the bottom section and pull the bulge. From there continue up slabby technical rock to the anchors underneath the large overhang. The crux varies, some people feel it is pulling the bulge while others feel like it is going through a technical crimpy section near the top 2/3rds of the climb....[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

Photos of The Dungeon Slideshow Add Photo
Happiness for a kid: A 40 foot tall swing set. Nov. 1, 2008.
Happiness for a kid: A 40 foot tall swing set. Nov...
A busy night at the Dungeon main wall. Allison (with helmet) on <a href='/v/against-nature-aka-peters-route/105847851'>Against Nature (aka Peter's Route)</a>, Casey (in red) on <a href='/v/gangland/106233567'>Gangland</a> and Sam on  <a href='/v/moat-jump/105848541'>Moat Jump</a>.
A busy night at the Dungeon main wall. Allison (wi...
Approach trail to the Dungeon shortly after it reopened, post Las Conchas fire
Approach trail to the Dungeon shortly after it reo...
Main Wall of The Dungeon, Los Alamos NM
Main Wall of The Dungeon, Los Alamos NM
This weekend saw flooding and serious erosion in Pajarito Canyon and through the Dungeon climbing area. Many routes got a bit longer by a few feet and there's now exposed bedrock in the stream channel on the back side of the 45 degree boulder. More photos at <a href='http://on.fb.me/163qXJu' target='_blank' rel='nofollow' >on.fb.me/163qXJu</a>
This weekend saw flooding and serious erosion in P...

Comments on The Dungeon Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 10, 2014
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Jul 7, 2011
Wow, thanks a lot for posting those pics Jason. I have been following the fire map and I was hoping that the fire was mostly brush (i.e. not a crowning fire) and that the big trees would be spared. Its a relief to see that the foliage inside the main climbing area (and upstream) looks to be okay. I guess we will just have to wait and see whether the trees on the approach trail end up surviving.
Thanks again for the great pics.
By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jul 12, 2011
You're welcome J. I went up the rest of the canyon beyond the climbing area yesterday and it's pretty bad up there. Most of the way up, both sides of the canyon are burned with very little ground vegetation remaining. I'm guessing that even if Santa Fe NF lifts the stage III restrictions, Pajarito Canyon will remain closed for quite some time due to flood potential.
By djkyote
Apr 26, 2012
anyone know when and if the dungeon will open this year?
By Owen Summerscales
From: Los Alamos, NM
May 5, 2012
The GPS location is wrong. 35.869065,-106.356938 is correct. Also I believe the rock is diacite, not rhyolite. For what it matters...
By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Sep 10, 2012
If you've been to the Dungeon recently you probably noticed the new trail from the parking area to the climbing area (and beyond!) I enjoyed working with many local volunteers this summer reconstructing the trail. Big kudos to the YMCA YES Corps, Girl Scout Troop 10026, YMCA Youth Conservation Corps and a handful of other, local individual volunteers.

And there's now a nice footbridge (dubbed "Chihuahua Bridge" for the first thing to cross the bridge after it was constructed) instead of the balancy log.

Chihuahua Bridge in Pajarito Canyon
Chihuahua Bridge in Pajarito Canyon
By djkyote
Sep 14, 2012
George,

I appreciate the idea of lowering the visual impact, but if this is a concern why are there 3, 3' long, shiney silver chains at the top of Motejump? Why are there draws hanging in the roof extensions?

From my time in meetings with the FS and NMcrag, the Crystal Cave closure was decided before 'discussions' started. The tribe didn't like the permadraws, but taking them down bought us nothing in the way of bargaining. The lesson: if the tribe wants an area shut the FS will do it with no public input or consideration of recreational access. Your tax dollars at work.

Camoflaged swage draws have very little visual impact. I would bet hikers would see chalk long before a swage draw. A few stategically placed permadraws on bolts like the crux of Loose Cannon would increase safety and speed up transitions of parties on busy days because you don't need to get through the crux to clean the route.

Bill
By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Sep 14, 2012
George Perkins wrote:
Bruno, I know who put it there, as does everyone else in LA who climbs at the Dungeon regularly. His intent wasn't to piss people off (though it certainly did to a few people). There haven't been very many positive opinions about that draw, but no one really wanted to make a big deal of it or cause any hard feelings. Anyway, the person who put it there has said he intends to remove it at the end of the season. Of course, if you want to take it down or move it first, no one's stopping you.

Contrary to George's opinion, I don't know anyone that has gotten upset or pissed off about the fixed draw on Moat Jump. Even the one climber I thought might take offense to it (Peter) has only joked about taking down but, obviously, hasn't done so. The feeling I get is that most are quite indifferent about it being there. I've gotten used to stick-clipping the draw and now appreciate it being there even though it isn't the crux or a difficult clip. Admittedly, I moved it down a bolt when I first saw it as I didn't know who put it there, didn't understand why it was there and thought Peter wouldn't care for it being in place.

I haven't been on Loose Cannon so I cant't comment on the need for a fixed draw.
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Sep 14, 2012
IMHO, that fixed draw should come down. There is absolutely no good reason for it, and given the recent situation at Crystal, it is incumbent upon the locals to act proactively to protect access. I'm not "angry" about the fixed draw, but if it had appeared in the half decade of time when I was a local, it would not have stayed up (I would of course made sure it made itself back to its owner).
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Sep 14, 2012
Bruno,

No, I'm not going to quit commenting on issues related to NM climbing. I know that this bothers you and your wife, but too bad (and no, threatening, anonymous emails from her did not "frighten" me away last time, so don't bother trying again).

I know where the cruxes are on MJ, so you don't need to lecture me. I also know that you can rodeo clip both the first and second draws (or stick clip them if you like) because I have done so for countless folks who needed them pre-clipped. When I lived in NM, I cared enough about the Dungeon to build the first iteration of the belay platform below Crimp Chimp after the Cerro Grande fire (with help from Clay Clark IIRC) and I cared enough to help with hardware upgrades, so just because I moved away doesn't mean I have to quit caring about what happens to the place now. Just because you live there currently, it doesn't give you the only say on how the place gets treated. Does my voice perhaps count less than the current locals? Sure. But as a community, we all have a stake in protecting access and making sure the place gets treated with respect.

Have a good day.

EDIT: To Bruno and Tonto - I'll tell you what, I will quit making assumptions about who you are if you start posting with your real names (or something that at least identifies you to the community).
By Senior Hernandez
Sep 17, 2012
Jay, assumptions make an arsh out of you.

As for the draw, it's kind of funny and irrelevant. Since it's irrelevant, we should probably take it down. However, it would be much better to permma draw the entire crag.
By Eric Whitbeck
Sep 18, 2012
Permadraw the whole crag? The inevitable follow up question "really?" "Come on really?"
By Jeremy Aslaksen
From: Albuquerque, NM
Sep 18, 2012
You guys crack me up.

JA
By Shibli Fazal
Feb 27, 2013
Kudos rock climbers! I overheard someone suggesting they would perma-draw the whole place if anyone wants to take him or her up on that offer. Goodbye.
By Omar Little
Sep 8, 2014
Someone brushed my very well thought out ticks off of Meltdown, Moat Jump and the roof of Loose Cannon in the past few days. That is NOT COOL! I spent a lot of time and chalk ticking every hand and foot I was thinking about using. Please be considerate of other climbers.
By Eric Whitbeck
Sep 10, 2014
Omar nice troll.